August 26, 2018
by Maureen McCann Waldron
Retired from Creighton University
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 424

Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Psalms 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Ephesians 5:21-32 or 5:2a, 25-32
John 6:60-69

Praying Ordinary Time

An invitation to make the
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How the Ordinary Time Readings Are Organized and Can Help our Prayer

When our son Jack was 4, he had a babysitter who always listened to a bible radio station – and he was puzzled by it.  He told me: “Mom, all they ever talk about is God and Abraham.  God and Abraham.”

Then he paused thoughtfully.  “Abraham? ….

You know, they don’t talk about any other president.”

We don’t always understand everything we hear.  Just like the disciples in today’s gospel.

Jesus has told them, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  They don’t understand.   They say: This is too hard to hear.  The gospel tells us: “As a result, many of his disciples left.”

We do that, too.  We leave because we don’t understand what is too hard to hear.

Take today’s reading from Paul.  I’ve been a lector for many years and it seemed that every three years when this reading came up – where wives were to be subordinate to their husbands – I was assigned it.  Always.

When I was younger, I was much more headstrong and impatient.  I hated this reading. 

It was too hard, and I decided that I didn’t like Paul or anything about him.

I chose to leave Paul because it was hard.   What I didn’t understand then was that marriage in his day was a business arrangement between the parents.  How could it help a family to make a marriage match?  How many sheep would she bring to the family?  Does his family have a lot of land?

The idea of marrying for love is mostly a concept from the last 200 years.  Before that, parents got together and two of their children got married and they all hoped for the best. 

So what Paul is saying in today’s reading is really radical.  He is saying husbands should do more than treat their wives with respect.  He is saying husbands should LOVE their wives. Should cherish them.

I abandoned St. Paul for a number of years and never wanted to read him.  I never wanted to be the second Lector at Mass because the reading is almost always Paul.  And in that time, I missed out on some of the greatest treasures of the Church.  St. Paul’s writings reflect his human-ness, and his love for the communities where he stayed and taught.  His writings are wonderful.

But we can decide to leave when things get too hard. 

The news about the church in Pennsylvania last week was terrible. 

There are no excuses for allowing that kind of abuse to be tolerated or continued. And we know it isn’t just in Pennsylvania, but this is a disorder that has infected the Catholic Church across the country and around the world.
Some of us may decide, this is too hard. I’m going to leave this church. 

But if we look around at Mass, our church is right here.  This group of people in our parish, this is our community.  We are the Catholic Church.

The Catholic traditions and sacraments are a way to deepen our relationship with God. 

We can’t let the horror that has been uncovered be our excuse to say, “This it too hard.  I’m out of here.”

My dear friend St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: How great is the hope to which we are called!  This is a time to be called to that hope because our church will be healed from this and our church will be changed for the better because of this.

So, what can we doing beyond staying committed, with hope? We can insist upon greater transparency and processes that are lay led.  We can ask for changes to bring the lay experience into internal procedures. We can be part of a church committed to healing and to reaching out to those who have become disillusioned, and disgusted.  It won’t be easy, but it will be blessed by the Spirit working among us so that we might be more of the church we are called to be.

In today’s gospel, Jesus looks around as disciples are drifting away, leaving, and says to his apostles, are you leaving, too?

Peter answers for the twelve, and for us:   To whom would we turn?  You have the words of eternal life. 

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